The Dover Quartet’s rise from being an up-and-coming young ensemble to occupying a spot at the top of their field has been “practically meteoric” (Strings). Catapulted to prominence after sweeping the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition, the group has become a major presence on the international scene. With its burnished warmth, incisive rhythms, and natural phrasing, the Quartet’s distinctive sound has helped confirm its status as “the young American string quartet of the moment” (New Yorker). Named as Cleveland Quartet Award winner for the 2016–17 and 2017–18 seasons, the group was awarded the Avery Fisher Career Grant in March 2017.
In the 2016-17 season the Dover Quartet released its debut recording, featuring three works by Mozart: his two final string quartets and the Quintet in C minor. Issued on the Cedille label, this program recalls the 1965 debut album of the Guarneri Quartet, whose founding violist, Michael Tree, joins the Dover Quartet on the recording. Also this season, over the course of six concerts in each of three cities, the group undertakes complete Beethoven quartet cycles for the first time. In Buffalo, NY, the Quartet performs in the University at Buffalo’s famous “Slee Cycle,” which has presented annual Beethoven quartet cycles since 1955 and has featured the likes of the Budapest, Guarneri, and Cleveland Quartets. The other two cycles take place at the University of Connecticut and the Montreal Chamber Music Festival; during the Montreal residency, the group also plays Mendelssohn’s Octet with the winners of the 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition – the competition at which they themselves took the Grand Prize and all three Special Prizes in 2013. The group embarks on a five-city U.S. tour with bassist-composer Edgar Meyer, playing Mozart, Rossini, Dvořák, and Meyer’s own Quintet for Strings; a tour of the West Coast with mandolinist Avi Avital, playing music by Bach, Smetana, Sulkhan Tsintsadze, and David Bruce; and a tour of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, debuting in every city with programs including Beethoven, Schubert, Smetana, Britten, Barber, and Caroline Shaw. Rounding out the season, the quartet also undertakes the second leg of its newly created three-year residency at the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts in New York.
During the 2015-16 season, the Dover Quartet performed more than 120 dates around the world, including debuts at Carnegie Hall, Yale University, the Lucerne Festival, and as part of the Lincoln Center “Great Performers” series. The group also returned to Washington, DC, for four programs at Dumbarton Oaks, two of which showcased the world premiere of a new commission by Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw. Besides launching a newly created three-year faculty residency at Northwestern University, the Dovers became the first Ensemble-in-Residence in the 116-year history of the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts in New York City, where they inaugurated a three-year residency encompassing multiple recitals, outreach activities in city public schools, and the chance to premiere a new commission from a composer of their choosing. Additional season highlights saw the quartet embark on its first tour of Israel, give three European tours, and perform for many of the most important presenters in the United States. A mainstay on the festival circuit, the Quartet also undertook week-long residencies at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and Arkansas’s Artosphere, like those they have done in the past at Bravo! Vail and Chamber Music Northwest.
Two seasons ago the Quartet made its Kennedy Center debut, which was pronounced “a triumph” by the Washington Post; gave recitals at New York’s Schneider Concerts and London’s Wigmore Hall; and played return engagements throughout the United States, Canada, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Great Britain. Festival appearances have taken the ensemble to the Bard Music Festival, Music at Menlo, La Jolla SummerFest, and Caramoor, where, as the 2013-14 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence, the Quartet premiered a new commission by David Ludwig. The group’s world-class collaborators have included pianists Anne-Marie McDermott, Marc-André Hamelin, and Jon Kimura Parker; violists Roberto Díaz and Cynthia Phelps; and the Pacifica Quartet.
In the spring of 2016, the Dover Quartet was recognized with the Hunt Family Award, one of the inaugural Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Awards, and in past years has taken top prizes at the Fischoff Competition and the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition. All four Quartet members are consummate solo artists: first violinist Joel Link took first prize at the Menuhin Competition; violinist Bryan Lee and violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt have appeared as soloists with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Tokyo Philharmonic, respectively; and cellist Camden Shaw released a solo album debut on the Unipheye Music label. As Strad magazine observes, “With their exceptional interpretative maturity, tonal refinement, and taut ensemble,” the Dover Quartet is “pulling away from their peers.”
Hailed as “the next Guarneri Quartet” (Chicago Tribune), the Dover Quartet draws from the lineage of that distinguished ensemble, as well that of the Cleveland and Vermeer Quartets; its members studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where they were mentored extensively by Shmuel Ashkenasi, James Dunham, Norman Fischer, Kenneth Goldsmith, Joseph Silverstein, Arnold Steinhardt, Michael Tree, and Peter Wiley. It was at Curtis that the Quartet first formed, and its name pays tribute to Dover Beach by fellow Curtis alumnus Samuel Barber. The group has since returned for residencies: to Rice in 2011-13, and to Curtis, where it became the conservatory’s first Quartet-in-Residence, in 2013-14.
The Dover Quartet is dedicated to sharing its music with under-served communities and is actively involved with Music for Food, an initiative enabling musicians to raise resources and awareness in the fight against hunger.
From a young age, violinist Joel Link has met much success both as a soloist and chamber musician. As a top prize winner of numerous competitions including the Johansen International Competition in Washington D.C. and the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition in England, Link’s playing has received accolades for being both highly refined and captivatingly passionate. The Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote of a concert, “After Joel played, the audience rose, one at a time, seemingly pulled out of their seats by the richness of his sound and the authority of his musical ideas.” As a result of his prize at the Menuhin Competition, Link was featured in The Strad magazine and has also appeared on numerous radio shows, including NPR’s “From the Top.”
A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, he studied with renowned violinists Joseph Silverstein and Pamela Frank, and served as the Curtis Symphony Orchestra’s concertmaster for the 2009-2010 season. Joel’s love of chamber music has taken him to highly regarded music festivals across the globe, including the Ravinia and Marlboro music festivals, as well as Music from Angelfire. As a member of the Dover String Quartet, (formerly the Old City String Quartet) Joel has received the Grand Prize as well as the Gold Medal from the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, and concertizes with the ensemble to great critical acclaim.
Bryan Lee has performed as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Delaware, Lansdowne, and Temple University Symphony Orchestras, among others. Bryan was awarded the Bronze Medal at the 2005 Stulberg International String Competition and won second prize at the 2004 Kingsville International Young Performers Competition. He was featured on America's National Public Radio station on the show “From the Top”, and has attended Ravinia's Steans Institute for Young Artists, La Jolla Summerfest, Music from Angel Fire, Encore School for Strings, Sarasota Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, and the Perlman Music Program.
Serving as Associate Concertmaster of both Symphony in C and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, and as a substitute for the Philadelphia Orchestra, Bryan has performed under the batons of such renowned conductors as Michael Tilson Thomas, Rossen Milanov, Otto-Werner Mueller, Alan Gilbert, Christoph Eschenbach, and Sir Simon Rattle, and has collaborated in chamber music with Peter Wiley, Ida Kavafian, Roberto Diaz, Anne-Marie McDermott, Carter Brey, and the Tokyo String Quartet. Bryan is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music where he studied with Pamela Frank and Victor Danchenko. His previous studies were with Choong-Jin Chang and Soovin Kim.
Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt
Praised by Strad Magazine as having "lyricism that stood out...a silky tone and beautiful, supple lines", violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt has already established herself as one of the most sought-after violists of her generation. In addition to appearances as soloist with the Tokyo Philharmonic, the Jacksonville Symphony, and the Sphinx Chamber Orchestra, she has performed in recitals and chamber music concerts throughout the United States, Latin America, and Europe, including an acclaimed 2011 debut recital at London’s Wigmore Hall, which was described in Strad as being "fleet and energetic...powerful and focused".
Ms. Pajaro-van de Stadt is the founding violist of the Dover Quartet, First Prize winner and sweeper of every special award at the Banff International String Quartet Competition 2013 and winner of the Gold Medal and Grand Prize in the 2010 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. Her numerous awards also include First Prize of the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition and top prizes at the Tokyo International Viola Competition and the Sphinx Competition. Ms. Pajaro-van de Stadt's summer festival appearances include Marlboro, Bowdoin, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Sarasota, Strings, Bravo! Vail Valley, and La Jolla Summerfest, as well as Italy's Emilia Romagna Festival. Among the conductors with whom she has worked are Seiji Ozawa, Christoph Eschenbach, Alan Gilbert, Charles Dutoit, and Otto-Werner Mueller.
A violin student of Sergiu Schwartz and Melissa Pierson-Barrett for several years, she began studying viola with Michael Klotz at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in 2005. Ms. Pajaro-van de Stadt graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Roberto Diaz, Michael Tree, Misha Amory, and Joseph de Pasquale. She then received her Master's Degree in String Quartet with the Dover Quartet at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, as a student of James Dunham. Ms. Pajaro-van de Stadt performs on a 2004 copy of the Primrose Amati, originally made for Roberto Diaz by Gabrielle Kundert.
Cellist Camden Shaw has captivated audiences across the United States and Europe as an artist of unique and sincere vision. His playing has been described as “Wonderfully rich” (Kansas City Star), “dynamic and brave” (Stereo Times), and possesses a fluidity and flair that is truly unique. As cellist of the prizewinning Dover Quartet, he has appeared all over the world to great acclaim, being called a “phenomenal instrumentalist, who [seems] to have no technical difficulties.” (Rheinpfalz Ludwigshafen.)
Shaw has also collaborated in chamber music with such renowned artists as Daniel Hope, Leon Fleischer, and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and maintains an active career as a soloist: highlights from recent years include a performance of the Beethoven Triple concerto with the highly-acclaimed Artosphere Festival Orchestra, where Shaw also holds the principal chair, and the release of his solo album by the audiophile label Unipheye Music. The Album met with much critical praise, and a review in the STRAD magazine said of Shaw’s Kodaly sonata: “There is a raw earthiness to Shaw’s playing, an interplay of passion and plaintive lyricism, and a courageous contempt for [its] horrific demands that is utterly gripping.”
Shaw graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in 2010, where he studied with Peter Wiley. Other major teachers include Norman Fischer, David Finckel, and Steven Isserlis. Shaw performs on an instrument made in 2010 by Sam Zygmuntowicz of Brooklyn, NY.